By Anna Saghabalian
The proportion of Armenians suffering from malnutrition has declined considerably in recent years and is no longer high by international standards, a senior official from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Wednesday.
Maria Kadlecikova, the FAO representative to Europe and Central Asia, welcomed Armenian government data that show the malnutrition rate falling from 2.8 percent to 1.8 percent between 2002 and 2005.
“You achieved a great improvement in the years 2002-2005,” she said. “This means that the number of those who are undernourished significantly decreased [in this period.]”
Kadlecikova cautioned, however, that the number of underfed people in Armenia has not changed since 2005. “This number is not so high,” she told reporters in Yerevan. “It is improving, but at this moment we are noting that it is stagnating.”
The government portrays the improved nutrition as a further indication that Armenia’s double-digit economic growth has benefited all segments of the population. According to government statistics, the percentage of Armenians living below the official poverty line shrank from 50 percent to 33 percent between 1999 and 2004 and has dropped further since then. In its policy program approved by parliament in June, the government forecast that the poverty rate will fall below 12 percent by 2012.